Diagnosis: Insanity

There is being cautious in the time of danger, and there is complete overreaction. This is the latter. We have lost our collective minds.

We have had Ebola, SARS, Swine Flu, the regular flu, and Lord knows what else in my lifetime. There is a new, unknown threat every two years (conveniently consistent with election years.) This is the first one that has canceled events, shuttered businesses and locked everyone in their houses, wearing masks and hoarding toilet paper.

What has changed? A number of critical issues, which I believe over time have weakened society.

Overprotection is Bad

We’ve had a full generation that grew up over-protected, and now they’re freaking out.

Think back to when you grew up. Were you driven to a school that was three blocks from your house? I rode my bike or walked the mile to school until I switched to a school fifteen miles from my house and rode the school bus. Did you have to wear a helmet to ride a bike? I didn’t. Did you need knee pads to wear skates? Could you go beyond the end of the block without your parents reporting you missing or calling you on a walkie-talkie? Did you get told to “walk it off” at least once? Did you lose games?

If not, you were probably raised overprotected. We have an entire generation or more who never experienced the basic pains of childhood – which is not really that bad. It’s a learning experience. Fall down the spillway, you learn not to walk there. (I didn’t, I fell down twice – the second time, showing where I fell the first time.) Fall off a bike, you learn to pay better attention. Walk to school, you learn independence. Blow out a knee in soccer, you learn to play better. Get some stitches, have a cool scar to build a better story around in old age.

Common Sense is Missing

How have we gotten to the point where we have to tell people, “If you’re sick, stay home?” and “Wash your hands”? Really? Really? Didn’t your parents teach you that?

As an aside, I am basically an hourly worker at this point, even if I’m called an “employee”, so going to all the doctors appointments for my broken ankle and foot recovery, the two days in the hospital recovering from the failed nerve blocker after the surgery, and anything else I do during the day that is not in front of my computer costs me money. I’m pretty sure I’ve used up most of my earned vacation at this point, because I really don’t have sick time. So, I get it. Being sick costs money.

That said, if you’re sick, stay home is not about you. Its for the protection of others. That’s where we have completely failed as a society. We are more concerned about ourselves and our needs than the community at large. This is a major issue.

The other example of the “Me” society is hoarding … anything. You don’t need sixty rolls of toilet paper. You don’t need dozens of masks. You don’t. This is why ERs will be overrun with people who are not sick. Me. Me. Me.

Think It Through

All schools are closed. Except for meals.” DISD has decided to continue providing food to students in need. There will be more than 500 students in the school, but served in the classrooms so they are smaller groups. Uh, if they’re in the classrooms, why not teach them? If these children are from homes that can’t afford food, how are they affording high-speed WiFi to do homeschooling for the rest of the year?

I’m going into isolation. I will just call for food delivery.” Who delivers your food? Oh, yes, drivers on minimum wage and tips. Remember, “if you’re sick, stay home?” That would be the target group for that message.

I’ll wear a mask 24×7 to protect me.” A face mask is for people who are ill, not for people who are well. This is according to the CDC and WHO. Don’t wear a mask if you are well. You look like a putz and you’re keeping a mask from someone who needs it.

I need six hundred rolls of toilet paper.” Review the CDC’s advice on caring for a COVID-19 patient at home. Amazingly, it doesn’t ever say, “Wipe their ass every sixteen seconds.”

My kids are home from school. Guess we’ll go to the mall.” Do you understand what self-isolation means?

I heard garlic can prevent coronavirus.” Uh, Italy?

Keep It In Perspective

I am not saying the spread of COVID-19 is not bad. I’m just saying, there is worse. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm and you will see there is an estimate of 22,000 to 55,000 deaths from seasonal flu in the US. This happens every year. Every fucking year. Just in the US. This is even with everyone able to get a flu shot at pretty much any corner drug store. COVID-19 has 4,613 deaths worldwide, per the WHO.

Why does the US not shut down for six months every year during seasonal flu season? We could save thousands of lives.

I have seen estimates that COVD-19 has about 80% mild cases. So, yes, if everyone in the US was infected, we would potentially lose 20% of our population. What are the chances of that actually happening?

If you are not in the high risk groups, much of the time, COVID-19 will be like a mild flu – stay at home and self-treat. The press never seems to mention most cases are “stay at home, self-treat.” You don’t need ICU time. You don’t need to be on a respirator. You need rest and chicken soup.

Information, Not Hysteria

Ever since CNN went on the air in 1980, there has been a need for constant news. When I was growing up, TV stations went off the air at night, and there was peace and quiet for a few hours. With CNN, there is no escape. Then, they got competition. Now, we have wall-to-wall coverage of crap we never would have known about years ago, as long as it fits their model and the biases of their owners and staff. It is relentless.

So, COVID-19, a disease with a very high survivability rate outside a few high-risk groups (which are generally high-risk for any respiratory disease), is suddenly a “deadly pandemic scourge which cannot be stopped.”

The annual flu is deadly. Car wrecks are deadly. Smoking is deadly. Chicago shootings are deadly. Most probably cause more deaths than COVID-19 has. Not a lot of coverage.

The World Health Organization has information. The CDC has information. Everything else is noise, and most of it is designed for ratings and not to actually help anyone. The more you panic, the higher the ratings. Just turn it off.

Proportionate Response

It’s a pandemic!” Once an epidemic (a rapid spread of a disease within a given population) occurs in multiple countries, it’s a pandemic. That’s the definition. It is a loaded word now, but it quite literally means as soon as there were cases in China, Italy and anywhere else, it was a pandemic. Don’t let a medical term panic you. AIDS is still a pandemic and you don’t hear a lot about it anymore, because it’s mainstream.

Our emergency rooms can’t handle everyone being sick!” This is probably true if everyone goes to the ER at the same time and needs constant care. Also, does everyone with seasonal flu go to the ER? There seems to be more of them.

People will be treated in the hallways!” Here’s a fun fact – that happened before COVID-19 ever erupted. My wife went to the ER in Pennsylvania with chest pains in 2018 and they had marked spaces in the hall for beds. They would bring a curtain when she changed or was examined. This was on a Monday. So, some ERs are already overrun on a regular basis. It’s not news. So, here’s a thought – if you have a cough or a runny nose, go to urgent care or better yet, your doctor. If you have a gunshot wound or a bone sticking out, go to the ER. If you don’t have symptoms, you might not really need a test on day one. Stay home and enjoy your mounds of toilet tissue.

One of the reasons The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was popular was because on the cover, it said “Don’t Panic.” Wise words.

The Man Trying to Kill You May Not Be

So, it’s O’Dark-Thirty, and I’m trying to find the rental car return in Peoria International Airport.

I’m poking along, trying not to miss the Avis sign, when a Parking Shuttle bus comes roaring up behind me. Good Lord, man, can’t you see I’m lost?

I realize I’m in the Hertz return area, and it looks like real parking after that, so it’s time to turn around. This is why I leave early for the airport.

I’m slowly making my way down the lot when the insane shuttle bus comes roaring up behind me, again. WTF? I’m lost. Go pick up someone who knows where they are.

One more U-Turn, and the shuttle is behind me again. Seriously?

Now, he’s honking his horn.

That’s it. I’m going to die.

So, I pull over and roll down the window.

He says, “Need help?”

Wait. What? He’s not a murderer?

“I’m trying to find Avis.”

“Follow me.”

The van roars off at quite an inappropriate speed for a parking lot, but it’s not like anybody else is here.

He leads me to Avis (in my defense, it was out of the way.)

I parked and he said, “Want a ride over?”

Now, I can see the terminal, and my FitBit thinks I need the steps, but I’ve got two computers and two suitcases, and he seems friendly, for a murderer.

“Sure.”

“I’ll take you to drop your bags first, because the rental counters aren’t open yet. It’s easier to drop the bags, then drop the keys.

I was trying to get you to stop, because you looked lost, and you kept going. I was just following you, because I figured you needed help.”

So, trying to get me to stop so you can render aid just looks like stalking. Good to know.

So, a quick ride to the terminal, quick instructions on where everything is, and I’m good to go.

I’m back to being early, which is much better than being lost.

So, thank you, early morning shuttle driver, for taking pity on me, driving me around, and explaining the lay of the land.

Oh, and for not murdering me.

Has any Italian ever written a complete recipe?

There’s a story one of my nieces tells about her Grandmother (aka my late Mom-in-law who defeated the Instant Pot from the Great Beyond earlier this week.) She was making Grandma’s Baked Beans, and followed the recipe but they didn’t taste right. She called Grandma for advice, and they walked through the recipe over the phone. After the list of ingredients, Grandma asked, “What about the mustard?” My niece said, “What mustard?” It wasn’t in the recipe, it was “implied.” Actually, everyone else knew it was in there, because everyone else in the family that made baked beans had learned by watching, not reading.

Now, I’m sure people are tired of hearing about my magical Instant Pot, but I made pot roast tonight. There were actually some free Instant Pot cookbooks for my Nook, so I just took the first recipe that I found, because it was short.

First thing, I scanned through the recipe to make sure we had all the ingredients (we did, for once) and that I could execute successfully while recovering from a stressful day (seemed possible.)

So, I began.

First, assemble all the ingredients. (I’m probably not experienced enough to say mise en place yet.) Once everything was assembled, I started browning the roast. The recipe said two tablespoons of olive oil. I begin wondering about the author. That’s not enough to cover the bottom of the pot, and everybody knows you need at least that much. So, I eyeballed it. (If I ever write a cookbook, I’m going to use “Chuck Roast” as my nom de plume.) (Two French phrases in one paragraph? Really?)

After the meat was browned, the recipe said to take it out and sauté the onions. Then, add the tomato paste and mushrooms, and continue stirring. Done.

Add the broth, put the roast back in, seal it, bring it up to pressure, cook for an hour. Second existential crisis. You can’t pressure cook on sauté mode. When was I supposed to have turned it off?

I was in the middle of that step and the existential crisis when I noticed the potatoes, sitting lonely and abandoned on the counter. Hmm. Those must go in the pot eventually. Did I miss a step?

So, I re-read the recipe to that point. No potatoes, except in the ingredients. I read through the rest of the recipe. The last step was to “serve the gravy with the meat and potatoes.” Raw potatoes?

This was my “What mustard?” moment. (Jen, I now feel your pain.)

How was that step left out? Who wrote this? Why, look. The author is from Tuscany. This recipe is probably just copied from his Nana’s notebook.

I threw the potatoes in with the meat, after consulting with the wife, since we don’t like raw potatoes. Crisis averted, but I’m worried about the quality of the recipe and it’s almost ten dollars of meat, and the good delivery restaurants are closing. I hope the rest of this was right.

This was the longest pressure cook I’ve done to date. An hour at pressure, followed by a natural release (which took another 20+ minutes, then a fifteen minute rest with the lid off. (Natural release followed by a rest sounds kinda dirty, now that I think about it.)

Hmm. What was that about pressure cookers and time savings?

(Since I never made most of these things in a pressure-free environment, I’m really not sure if an hour and a half is good or bad.)

Come to think of it, I’ve often had the wife or dogs (or both) waiting on whatever I’m cooking, and they’re usually staring (or growling) at me, so I’ve always cooked under pressure. It’s just now I use a pressure cooker.

Gravy time. Add the water and flour (water? Wait. What water? How much water?) to the pot (Do you take the meat out first? What about the potatoes? Were they really supposed to be in there? Am I really mixing gravy around a three-pound roast?)

I asked the Spousal Unit for advice. She said “it must mean a slurry.” Shouldn’t it say a slurry, then? I’m assuming that’s what she learned from watching her Mom, not read.

Finally, I just pretended my Mom-in-law wrote the recipe and added some mustard.

Actually, I just fished the meat and potatoes out (fishing meat?), and made a basic gravy. It was decent, but it would have been better if I had cooked the flour first(or just used cornstarch.) I suppose that was implied, as well. Thanks, author’s Nana.

I need a new cookbook.

A Strange and Disturbing Relationship

Full disclosure – I’m divorced and have alienated any number of people over the years, so I’m certainly not an expert at relationships (even though my second marriage has lasted four times longer than my first so far – although it may end when someone special reads this post.)

That said, there is one relationship I simply don’t understand at all – that of a woman and her cleaning lady. First of all, I hope “cleaning lady” is PC, I think they used to be called maids and before that, they were servants.

First, cleaning ladies strike fear in women’s hearts. Ask yourself this – do men snake all the pipes and replace washers before the plumber arrives? Do men replace fuses and make sure all the wiring is straight before the electrician arrives? Of course not – that’s why you hire a professional. So, why is it mandatory to pre-clean the house before the cleaning lady arrives?

Contrary to their ability to strike fear, cleaning ladies also seem to be confidantes. I do not know any male who has invited their plumber or electrician to their wedding, but I can think of at least one woman who invited her cleaning lady, and I know one woman who hosted her cleaning lady’s wedding.

Every time I hear about the relationship between a woman and her cleaning lady, I flash back to an old Seinfeld episode, where Jerry starts sleeping with his maid, and it turns out she’s really a hooker. She also starts doing less and less work, which may be a more critical point from the male perspective. Sex is fine, but those curtain rods aren’t going to dust themselves.

When men complain about the costs of a cleaning lady, the counter argument is usually that the current one is worth the money and a cleaning service (e.g. an anonymous cleaning lady with no connection to the woman of the house) would be much more expensive. The secondary argument is that if someone were paid to actually clean the entire house, then the woman of the house would have to pre-clean properly in advance. (“I admit it. The house is cluttered. How could someone possibly clean it?”) What?

My one theory is that a man should just cancel the cleaning lady and then tell his Spousal Unit that the cleaning lady has been rescheduled to the next day. Then, the Spousal Unit will frantically pre-clean the house in preparation.

The other issue – where I am not alone – is that the cleaning lady puts things where she thinks they belong, even if it should be intuitively obvious where they belong. “Let’s see, I have a clean glass. Here is a cabinet with 337 glasses in it. So, I guess this glass belongs in the cabinet on the other side of the kitchen with the plates. Also, all the husband’s shaving equipment is lined up neatly by the bathroom sink. It must belong in the drawer under the other side of the sink beneath the tampons, or perhaps in the closet in the other bathroom.”

As a man wiser than I once said, “The cleaning lady comes every two weeks and it takes me two weeks to find the stuff she put away.” (I would quote him directly, but I’m protecting the innocent.)

I am not friends with my plumber or my mechanic. There is a part of me that would like to discuss my Spousal Unit’s failure to get excited about my new blog (and my inability to tell her why this really hurts) while my mechanic is watching the oil drain from my car, but I don’t think he  likes being distracted. Also, I have no idea what his name is, which makes it harder to confide my true feelings in him.

If I had one of my friends helping me with work around the house, I would be paying in beer and pizza, not cash. They probably wouldn’t expect a clean area to work in, either. Mainly because they live alone, and they don’t have cleaning ladies.